Hurricane Florence, the Beginning

This hurricane season was very quiet and I didn’t even pay attention when Florence appeared in the Atlantic. It wasn’t until the storm spun up to a Category 3 storm on Sunday, September 9, and then the tracks all pointed to Wilmington, NC, did I take notice.

Monday morning a coworker and I went to a pre-storm meeting with the College administration at work and the decision was made based on the storm’s likelihood of becoming a Category 4 hurricane, to close on Tuesday. That started a very long week of waiting.

Tuesday morning (Sept. 11th) was spent shutting down the datacenters at work and making sure things were ready for the expected power-outage. I also spent a lot of the morning searching for wood to cover our bay window. But by the afternoon the window was covered, bread and water were in the pantry and all we could do was wait.

Stormy Sky
The sky was cloudy toward the east as the hurricane approached.

Wednesday the storm had slowed down and people were worried it would get even stronger. There was nothing to do but wait. On our evening walk we noticed the Pender Memorial Hospital Emergency Department had closed.

Pender Memorial Hospital
The Emergency Department closed in anticipation of a Cat 4 Hurricane.

At Work

Yesterday was ‘Take your Son/Daughter to Work Day’ so I took MD with me to the office for the morning. She was quite excited to go with me and was up at 7:00. We ate breakfast on the way and then she pretty much followed me around through my daily routine. We also made some extra stops to visit with some of my co-workers.

At Work

Back in the office she colored with markers and played some educational games on the computer.

Managing Risk

At the beginning of last week I got an email from my credit card company, but put off reading it until Friday. In the meantime my boss had scheduled a meeting about how we were going to implement PCI standards on our network and servers at work. We talked a lot about how we could secure our computers and protect credit card numbers that passed through our network.

So when I finally got back to the email I found out that my credit card number had been stolen and a number of purchases had been flagged as suspecious. It wasn’t a large amount, not quite one hundred dollars, but I was thankful that the company was treating the risk seriously enough to watch for transactions originating in foreign countries for example and letting me know in time to dispute the charge so I didn’t have to pay.

2008 SEDUG Conference

Last week we went down to Myrtle Beach for the SouthEast Datatel Users Group conference at the Hilton there. Once again it was cold and windy so we didn’t spend much time outside, and never walked on the beach. The closest we got was the patio that looked over the beach. Even then it was getting cold.

CDF and the girls did a lot of shopping on Thursday while I attended the conference sessions. Neither MD or CE felt like taking a nap, so they were on the go most of the day. They slept well at night, even though CE cried for about five minutes before going to sleep.

Some of the conference sessions were interesting (such as the new Colleague Studio plugin for the Eclipse IDE), but as Ravi said, the conference was for a break from work, not for learning. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Also I got to attend one session in the Dunes room at the top of the hotel, which has a wonderful view of the beach.

Public Speaking

I have always been known as quiet, but growing older I have found it easier to be more outgoing. I still have a long way to go, especially in casual conversation, but public speaking is an area where I’ve really improved. I’m sure doing the announcements, and now scripture readings, prayers, etc., at church have helped get me over the stage fright.

This past October I was part of a panel on Disaster Recovery at the Community College IIPS conference. A while back a vendor we worked with asked if I would be interested in participating in a session and I agreed. It turned out that I would be presenting with four other people, so it wasn’t as bad as being the sole speaker. I made sure I was prepared, though, and had no problem speaking. I was actually better prepared than some of the others on the panel and they thanked me afterwards for carrying their part of the discussion.

Then last week and tomorrow I volunteered to teach classes on a reporting software package we use at work. I know it well enough to teach, but still I kind of surprised myself that I felt like getting front of a class. It’s been a few years since I last taught a class like that. It went well though — again, it’s good to be prepared.

Tall Ship in Wilmington

Last week a tall ship (i.e. two masts with sails), the Prince William, from the UK docked in Wilmington on it’s way to Virginia to participate in the Tall Ships Challenge Atlantic Coast Series 2007 which goes from Norfolk to Newport, Rhode Island. I walked down to see it on Thursday and took a few pictures.

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The Prince William Docked along
Water Street in Wimington

The Prince William is a training ship that recruits teens during the summer months to learn how to sail. Though one works, you actually have to pay to sail with them, somewhere from $500 to $1000.

Another ship had docked nearby as well, and looked impressive enough for me to want to take pictures of it as well. It was a research ship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I suppose it was getting ready to check out Atlantic hurricanes (the season having started the end of last week).

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NOAA Research Ship Docked Near Coast Guard

Expiring Data

Yesterday Ars Technica had an article giving an alternative view on collecting and storing data called Escaping the data panopticon: Prof says computers must learn to “forget” . Having pack-rat tendencies myself I found the article interesting.

I think the idea of data with an auto-expiration date is good for most companies and especially the government. I think he missed a lot by not including data life-cycle management in his article, since it’s already been a topic of much discussion in business and IT circles.

But what about personal data on one’s home PC? Or personal data one has posted online, at a forum for example. He seems to suggest that every file should come with a year or two expiration, including pictures from one’s digital camera. My gut reaction is to say absolutely not! I want to delete unwanted files intentionally, not have them disappear because I forgot to change the expiration to 10,000 years.

Online forums feel different to me. I don’t care that my post disappear after a while (many already do), as long as it’s clear up front that they are not kept permanently.

In conclusion, I think the author is misdirected. Companies, Governments, and people who collect data from others do need to have a data life-cycle policy in place, and get rid of old records. But I don’t see any advantage to extending that into the home in any automatic fashion whatsoever. A manual process of weeding out old files would still be a good thing though.

Oww

So I was on my way to work and I had to stop for gas. While I was pumping a bug landed in between my collar and my neck. It didn’t feel big, but I tried to brush it out and that’s when I felt it grab my finger with its little legs and … OUCH… it stung me! Right on the index finger too. I never did see what it was, but since it didn’t leave the stinger in my finger it must have been a wasp or hornet. I joked when I got to work that if it hadn’t been my left hand I would have had to call in sick since I wouldn’t be able to use my mouse. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I took some ibuprofen (from the bunny dispenser), but it’s still throbbing and is making it hard to type.

Pictures of Downtown

I took a stroll downtown during my lunch break (actually it was last month, May 17) and took the camera to try to get some pictures that captured a little of what I see everyday working in Wilmington.

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Sidewalk

I still find it difficult to picture how scenes will look to the camera lens. Supposedly our eyes have the same field of view as a 38mm lens (or 50mm if you’re talking about a single eye). But sometimes I feel like I make a better match with a 400mm lens, because I selectively focus on an interesting subject and tune out the rest of the view. If I stop to pay attention to what’s around the subject that caught my interest, I realize that there’s a whole lot of detail (i.e. clutter) that would show up if I took the picture and the original subject would end up lost in all that clutter. Maybe now that I’m realizing how I’m “seeing,” I can start working on finding better views, especially finding perspectives that simplify the background and cut out the clutter.

I don’t always get it wrong. I think the following picture came out well. I was interested in the texture of the water and how the buoy and anchor contrasted with, and reflected on the water.

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Buoy on the Cape Fear River